Parish roundup: Domestic violence; Protestant-only foster care; pastoral priorities

Fr. Sean Horrigan celebrates Easter Vigil Mass April 15, 2017, at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston where he is pastor. A Jan. 17, 2019, domestic violence shooting in the parish parking lot prompted the parish to mourn the victims and address domestic violence at a Mass the following day. (CNS photo/ Texas Catholic Herald/James Ramos)

by Dan Morris-Young

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A Mass was celebrated Jan. 18 at Christ the Redeemer Church in Houston, Texas, to mourn the lives of a wife and daughter gunned down just a few yards away in the parish parking lot the night before by an estranged husband. 

Arthur Edigin, 62, fired shots into the car of his wife, Graciela Torres, killing her and their daughter, Penny Edigin-Zapata, 31. "The reality of the evil of domestic violence played itself out in our presence last night, but we cling to the love and goodness of God in times of such trials," said Fr. Sean Horrigan, pastor. "We seek to be bearers of light and peace in the world, and work to provide a place of safety and surety for all who face such realities in their homes."

Burnout among church workers — pastors and employees and volunteers– is not a new challenge. Pope Francis has talked about it.  The Bible addresses it.  There have been symposiums on it in Rome. And there is science that underscores the need to recharge, including consideration of what is being called a "Technology Shabbat," a regular unplugging from technology.


There are many church groups with "Catholic" in their names, but who are not necessarily in union with the pope or Roman Catholic Church.  Sante Fe Archbishop John C. Wester issued a Jan. 23 statement noting the fact in the wake of a paid advertisement in the Albuquerque Journalby self-identified "pro-choice Catholics."


Worshippers gather Jan. 20 at St. Peter Church in Cameron, Wis., to give thanks for Jayme Closs's escape from abduction. The ecumenical service brought a sense of closure and relief to the community, whose members have wept and prayed together since the October murder of Jim and Denise Closs and the abduction of Jayme, their 13-year-old daughter. (CNS photo/Catholic Herald/Anita Draper)

St. Peter Church in Cameron, Wisconsin, filled to overflowing Jan. 20 for a community-wide gathering to celebrate the safe return from abduction of 13-year-old Jayme Closs, and to commemorate her suffering and the loss of her parents, Jim and Denise, murdered in October by Jake Thomas Patterson who imprisoned Jayme for three months. 

Fr. John Gerritts, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Hudson, and supervising pastor of parishes in the region, led the service, which included prayers of thanksgiving for law enforcement, schools, friends, the community, Jim and Denise Closs and Jayme. St. Peter is the Closs's home parish and site of Denise and Jim's funerals. Jayme now lives with her aunt, Jennifer Smith, who also belongs to the parish.

If you are a Catholic in South Carolina and want to be a foster parent, apparently you need not apply at Miracle Hill Ministries, one of the state's largest providers of care for those in need, including foster children. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a waiver permitting all of the state's foster care agencies to ignore an Obama-era regulation barring religious discrimination in federally funded foster care. Thus, Miracle Hill may continue its policy of only accepting Protestant, church-attending parents for foster home consideration.

"We who work in the church need to do much more to welcome people in a spirit of hospitality and need to worry much less about who is 'worthy' to receive the sacraments," writes Claretian Father Rosendo Urrabazo, provincial superior of the USA Province of the Claretian Missionaries, in an essay addressing the question, "Do parishes need to get their priorities in order?"

[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent.]

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